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Monday, October 31, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Bengal slammed for not implementing right to education act
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Friday slammed the West Bengal government for not implementing right to education act in the state. Addressing the media here at conclusion of a two-day-long public hearing, NCPCR Chairperson Shanta Sinha said the problem of child labor and trafficking were rampant in West Bengal because of non-implementation of the right to education act. “It seems that the issue is not of resources but that of will,” Sinha said. “These and many other children are falling victim to child labor and trafficking because the authorities have not implemented the RTE in all seriousness that could allow children a chance at education and better future,” she said.

U.S. is urged to keep up fight against trafficking
The U.S. remains a key player in the fight against human trafficking and a congressional proposal to cut funding would adversely affect the global battle to end the trade, writes Matthew Friedman, regional project manager for the United Nations Inter-Agency on Human Trafficking. Between 12 million and 27 million people around the world are trapped in slave like conditions as result of human trafficking.

If Super Bowl brings influx of human trafficking, prosecutors are ready
A two-day training session for county prosecutors this week was the latest in Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's efforts to combat human trafficking. Two deputies from the Vanderburgh County prosecutor's office were among the 40 law enforcement officials who attended a seminar in Indianapolis and aimed at showing those officials how to prosecute traffickers and deal with victims.

Fighting Over Online Sex Ads
Village Voice Media has a classified network called Backpage.com that includes a section labeled “adult” with categories like “escort” and “strippers & strip clubs.” The vast majority of ads involve one consenting adult seeking another, but there have been instances in which the section was used to offer minors for sexual ends. In September 2010, Craigslist, which hosted a great deal of sexually related advertising, bowed to pressure and banned that advertising in the United States. A significant portion of the estimated $44 million in sex-related advertising on Craigslist found a home on Backpage.com. But in August the country’s 51 attorneys general sent a letter demanding that the site close its “adult” section, and now a coalition of religious leaders has joined that effort.

Senate leaders: Deal on human trafficking bill possible before Nov. 16
A day after a Republican senator broke with decorum and criticized colleagues for prolonged negotiations on a bill cracking down on human trafficking, the Senate’s point-person on the issue said a deal is within reach and could be sealed within three weeks, when the Legislature is scheduled to recess until January. The bills establishes the crimes of trafficking persons for sexual servitude and trafficking persons for forced services, each which would carry a potential 15-year sentence. Traffickers of children could face life in prison. The Senate bill proposed fines of up to $1 million on businesses found to engage in human trafficking, and added state-funded social services for victims of sex trafficking or forced labor. The House bill would authorize $10,000 fines for those convicted of soliciting sex from a minor.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Named in Human Trafficking Report
Controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was named in a U.S. government report on human trafficking. The 75-year-old media baron turned politician landed on the list because of his alleged relationship with a 17-year-old belly dancer, Karima El Mahroug, during one of his now-infamous "bunga bunga" parties. “In February 2011, judges set a trial date for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child, media reports … indicate evidence of third party involvement in the case, indicating the girl was a victim of trafficking," the State Department report said. The annual report is just the latest embarrassment for Berlusconi over the incident, which has him facing criminal charges in Italy.

U.S. Lawmaker Seeks More Scrutiny on India Trafficking
A U.S. lawmaker on Thursday urged more scrutiny of India's record on human trafficking as the State Department insisted that the emerging Asian power was taking significant strides against the problem. In its latest annual report on human trafficking, the State Department took India off a watchlist and credited the democracy's independent judiciary and civil society with spurring action to rescue women and children. But Republican Chris Smith, author of the law that requires the trafficking report, queried the upgrade. Smith asked the State Department to look carefully next year at whether India is making "an all-out effort to eradicate slavery" or only trying to appease criticism. Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for South Asia, defended the administration's assessment. He said India had traffickers in their crosshairs, while until recently authorities would arrest the victimized women and girls.

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